Presentation on theme: "RIGHT TO INFORMATION: PROGRESS, PROBLEMS & PROSPECTS. Dr. S. N. Datye Professor (Retd.) of Political Science Dr. B. A. M. University Aurangabad."— Presentation transcript:
RIGHT TO INFORMATION: PROGRESS, PROBLEMS & PROSPECTS. Dr. S. N. Datye Professor (Retd.) of Political Science Dr. B. A. M. University Aurangabad
Philosophical Foundation: A Source of real Democracy. Indicator of Transparent and Responsible Governance. Weapon against Corruption. Encourages Openness in society, Polity and Economy. Instrument of Public participation in Decision making process. Right or Freedom?—It’s a freedom of Information backed by Right. Device to accelerate the Process of overall development especially in developing countries.
World wide presence- An overview : First adopted in Sweden– 1776, subsequently amended 1810,1949. Followed by other countries from middle of the last century. Reference to this right in Un resolution –First session Recognized as a Fundamental Human Right. ICCPR considers RTI is implied in citizens Right of Freedom of Opinion & Expression. Increasing trend in many countries towards making law to that effect. Approximately countries have this right by law & thinking seriously in the matter. The role by the World Bank & IMF in the enforcement of the RTI Act in their client countries in the last decade is significant.
INDIAN SCENARIO Three Agencies’ contribution in the development of the RTI Act. 1.Judiciary-Series of judgments of the Supreme court interpreting Arts. 19, 21 etc. 2. Public initiative & movements-MKSS in Rajasthan, Anna Hajare –Maharashtra & other NGOs. 3.Government efforts at Centre & State level towards legislation. Two domains of Activities : (A ) Private Domain --MKSS 1990 initiative, Jan sunavai, Anna Hajare’s Efforts Press Council Draft (B) Public Domain Conference of Chief Ministers – Ram Jethmalani’sfailed efforts H. D.Shouri’s Draft bill with Report 1997 onwards: Enactment by some state Governments. In Parliament : 2000 July25,- The Freedom of Information bill introduced in Parliament Dec.16, Bill passed 2003 Jan. 10,President accords assent. However the act does not comes in force due to absence of notification governing the rules & Date of commencement
Progress in Parliament May 2004 new UA government comes to power at the Centre. Implementation of the RTI Act included in the Common Minimum Program (CMP) National Advisory Council (NAC) recommends to amend The Freedom of Information Act to PMO in Sept.2004 PIL comes up for hearing in the Apex Court- July20, Subsequent to these pressure RTI Bill 2004 is introduced in the Parliament- December 23, Standing committee Report with recommendations –March 1,2005. Amended RTI bill submitted to Parliament passed – May 11, in Lok Sabha & May12, in Rajya Sabha. President’s assent-June 15, Provides 120 days period to complete the formalities, & sets the dead line of October 12, The Central Government’s RTI Act 2005 comes in to force
THE ACT A revolutionary Act which opens up a practical regime of seeking information from any public authority as a matter of right to every citizen of India Contains 31 sections divided in six chapters & 2 schedules. CH-1, ( S.1&2)- Preliminaries like short title& definitions of the terms used in the Act; CH-2, (S.3-11)- The meaning & contents of the Right and obligations of public authorities; CH-3 ( S.12-14)-Organization & structure of the Central Information Commission; CH-4 ( S )-Organization & structure of the State Information Commission; CH-5 (S )-Powers & functions of the Information Commissions, provisions of appeal &penalties; CH-6 ( S )-Deals with number of issues pertaining to actual implementation, procedure, monitoring and reporting. I st Schedule: Form of oath to be made by CICs & ICs at the central and State level; II nd Schedule: List of organizations exempted from the purview of the Act.
SALIANT FEATURES OF THE ACT Objectives: To promote Openness, Transparency in working of public authority, Accountability in governance Containing corruption by giving access to information under the control of public authority. Nationwide Applicability: Exception of the state of J&K Comprehensive definition of Information: ( S.2-f) Substantial Entitlement: It includes Right of a citizen to: Inspect, take notes, extracts, certified copies of documents—obtain information in any conventional or modern ( electronic) forms (S.2-j) Wider coverage of area of activity: Public authority includes any authority body or institution of self- government as mentioned in S.2(h). Exumptions: Certain organisations/ bodies are excluded :from the purview of the Act.( S.24) : Obligations of Public Authority defined: Easy access to Information: Mechanism for implementation of the act: Chapter III &IV make detailed provisions regarding Org, Powers& Functions of CIC &SICs. Time limit: Stringent penalty: Limitations on discloser: Right is not absolute in character. Provision of appeal but bars jurisdiction of courts ( S.23)
IMPLIMENTATION A Case of Maharashtra State – Maharashtra state had its own RTI Act effectively implemented since 2003 of the Act since 2005., which has led to create awareness among the people about its use, effectiveness and importance. Therefore there was steady rise in use It’s almost more than four and half years have passed since the Right to Information Act 2005 has come in to existence. Day by day people in the state are becoming increasingly aware about its existence. The number of applications, complaints and appeals to appellate authorities is constantly increasing. Table No.1. Complaints Received & disposed of. YearComplaints Received Complaints Disposed of ,23,0001,13, ,16, ,16, ,407284,49,954(includes appeals pending)
The Progress It’s not only that the number of applications received but also the rate of disposal of appeals is important. Table No2 Progress in disposal of Appeals The progress of the Act can also be assessed on the basis of information given /refused, fine imposed on employees/ officers for negligence, number of employees trained and effots made by the government to create awareness about the Act amongst the citizens etc. On all these counts performance of Maharashtra is commendable. YearNo. of appeals No. Of appeals cleared % of disposal Pendency at the year end % % %10716
Lead taken by Maharashtra in propagating and popularizing the concept of Right to Information and all out efforts for its effective implementation is significant. Training the Officers/Employees : The state of Maharashtra is also way ahead of other states accomplishing the responsibility as a leader in training and capacity building for access to information. The grass root experience and expertise on both National and state RTI Acts has been nominated made ‘YASHADA’- State government run training Academy for it officers and employees- as National Implementing Agency (NIA) by Department of Personal and Training (Do PT) of Government of India. Reaching out to the People: Reaching out to people is really a significant factor in successful implementation of the RTI Act. The Maharashtra State is well ahead in this regard, with the initiative taken by YASHADA. Apart from organizing training programmes, it is working to create awareness among the common people about the RTI Act. It has published number of books, training material, and articles both in English and Marathi on the subject. Along with basic publications in the form of Handbooks, Templates for disclosures under sec.4 of the act, A manual for public authorities, A guide to media, it came out with novel idea of a table Calendar in 2007 and a Diary of State resource persons and Radio Programmes, Scripts for street plays and One act play.The credit of broadcasting first serial radio programme goes to YASHADA. It has sponsored 52 episodes of 30 minutes each on RTI from Akashwani Pune since January2007.
The Obstacles & Limitations: The people are using the Act in more than one ways to get: personal grievances and long pending solved. Expose Corruption. Correction of records. At the same time following shortcomings and limitations are noticed Flood of applications demanding routine information. Insistence for the information that cannot be given by Law. Threatening /blackmailing employees. As a result increased Workload in government offices. Weaker section is not taking benefit of the Act as expected. Misuse of concessions to BPL group by the vested interests. Unsatisfactory disposal of Applications / First Appeals within stipulated period by PIOs. Tendency among higher officials to entrust work of hearing/disposal of first appeals to lower officials. Voluntary disclosure of information under S.4 ( 17 items) is unsatisfactory. Inadequate Staff and facilities to tackle the problem at SIC /other govt. offices. Dangerous trend of physical assault on RTI activists. Governments tendency to appoint retired bureaucrats as SIOs at divisional level.
Conclusion: Not withstanding these infirmities and shortcomings the contribution of the act to attain its objectives cannot be denied. There is need to do concentrated efforts to create awareness in the people at large and bring positive change in the typical bureaucratic mind set of the officials for success of this RTI Act 2005.